For those of you who follow the NFL, you may have heard a story about a certain rookie who was playing for the Seattle Seahawks. He was recently caught (and then cut) letting a female into his hotel which was breaking the rules of their quarantine time in order to get the season going for the NFL.
This got me thinking about how players from many different sports that are trying to get back to playing as they did before are having to trust so many people to do the right thing. NFL players are having to trust their teammates that they are following the rules set forth by the league and their coaches to make sure they can still share the same space in practice and eventually games. These players, coaches and staff are also having to trust organizations from other teams to make sure they are following the same rules, so competitions between other teams can still be held in a safe way.
Imagine finding yourself, someone who followed all the rules, unable to play the sport that you love because one of your teammates was not smart about their decisions and did not follow the guidelines put in front of them.
This got me thinking about how important trust is among teammates. You may have heard things like “trust is the fruit of a relationship…”. This is even more important for players who are finding themselves in a sort of bubble scenario to trust one another to keep all coaches, players, and staff members safe in order to compete again.
However, this is not a new phenomenon, having to trust your teammates. This is one of the more difficult things about the beginning of each season because you are learning about one another’s strengths and weaknesses and how to trust one another when you are all working towards a common goal. You can see it in football when a quarterback does not pass to a receiver that seems open because he does not trust that he will make a play on the ball. A point guard will not pass to her teammate in the post because she may feel that her teammate drops the pass a lot of the time. A first baseman may call off his pitcher teammate from making an infield fly catch because he does not stay focused on the ball making its way all the way back to his glove. There are so many scenarios in team sports where trust is not as high as it should be to be successful.
How do teams achieve that trust with one another, especially in a socially distanced way as our communities are still trying to stay safe?
One thing a mental skills trainer can help you with is achieving this trust and cohesion with your teams even before they step on the court/field/course/etc. Finding activities outside of the sport are incredibly helpful for learning about one another. I have seen players play some paintball together or even other outdoor activities like capture the flag at someone’s house or focusing on another sport activity that is outside of their actual sport that they play together. This helps build cohesion between the teammates without even picking up the sport ball that the players play together. Finding activities like this that you can safely practice outside and distanced from one another are great opportunities to create some trust and cohesion between players.
Find ways that you can get some potential new players involved, too. Instead of having the new players be in a group by themselves, establish mentors within your team to help influence the new people or rookies on the team.
There are even some trust building activities that you can do inside that do not involve a lot of contact. As always, reach out to see how I can help enhance your team’s cohesion and trust among one another as competitions begin to happen more frequently!